2 runners with 40 years of something in common; “It was Al McGuire”

MILWAUKEE -- The Briggs and Al's Run and Walk to benefit Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has become a yearly event in downtown Milwaukee -- and a part of the lives of two men.

"It was Al McGuire and it's a five-mile run it's like, can I do a five-mile run? Why not," said Emil Neidinger.

With that, Neidinger started a tradition that has now lasted 40 years.

It's something Dick Schoenecker is familiar with too. He too has run in all 40.

"After maybe 20 years you didn't want to miss one because it would be hard to get the streak going again," Schoenecker said.

"A lot of people say we've been pretty lucky health wise to be able to do it. I mean the knees, the hips or something like that. Most people by then have problems," Neidinger said.

Neidinger and Schoenecker never met before. But when they got together, they talked about some similar experiences.

"The early ones, when it was easier for us to run, it was a bigger party at the end. When Al was there, he'd introduce everybody and they'd have bands and that kind of thing. That was some of the best ones, but all of them are fun," Schoenecker said.

One difference between the two is that Schoenecker knew Al McGuire.

"In 1979, which was the second year I think, people who pledged $100 -- Al had a bet with the guys he knew that if he broke 40 minutes, they'd double the bet and it was about 200 meters short," Schoenecker said.

But even though Neidinger wasn't acquainted with Al, he did get him to autograph the original shirt. He also had an encounter with Al's mother.

"We used to, for some reason, end up at the War Memorial underneath because one of the years it was sort of, we never had a really rain pouring it was a damp day," Neidinger said. "So when we got down there, the runners and I met my wife and she was by a big black Buick and it was Al McGuire's mother's car and our youngest son who was round five-ish -- not sure of the years. She actually, during the race, had him sitting on the top of the car running the race because that was his mother."

Both Neidinger and Schoenecker are in their 70s, but excited to be part of history with number 40. They're also excited to share the moment.

"All the grandchildren at one time or another were in a stroller or a wagon or something being pulled down Wisconsin Avenue with the walkers and my wife's down it since the walkers became part of it, I guess 84, somewhere in there," Neidinger said.

So will the streak ever end?

"I plan on doing it, like I said, it's going to be a walk run this year. But hey, I'm doing the five miles, not the three," Neidinger said.

"Well, I'd like to do 50 years," Schoenecker said.